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World of Warcraft Finally Loses Subscribers 413

Posted by Soulskill
from the infinite-growth-apparently-unsustainable dept.
bonch writes "After seven years and a highpoint of 12 million subscribers, World of Warcraft has seen a loss of nearly one million subscribers in the last six months for the first time in its history, according to Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime during an Activision earnings call. However, the game remains the most popular MMO, and Morhaime said Blizzard plans to reverse the trend with fresh content. Some believe that the loss in subscriber interest is a sign of the game's inevitable twilight years. Blizzard also recently received a trademark for 'Mists of Pandaria,' fueling speculation about the next expansion pack."
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World of Warcraft Finally Loses Subscribers

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  • by CaptainInnocent (2439004) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @03:54AM (#37116446)
    Personally, and for many others, the constant feeling of grinding did it. RIFT is a much more fun game, it has a lot of variety and you get to the fun stuff right from the beginning. EVE Online has a huge interesting world where everything goes, and is tailored much more towards PVP. World of Warcraft is just too much about PVE and grinding that environment, which really isn't that fun, especially considering it's an MMO. Even withholding the MMO games, there are so many absolutely fantastic games coming out now and in the recent years that I'm not surprised people feel bored with WoW. It's only going to be worse for WoW, with Battlefield 3 [youtube.com], The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [youtube.com] and many more fantastic coming out really soon.
    • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:16AM (#37116556) Homepage Journal

      I always referred to playing WoW as "running errands."

      • Damn right. I mean, they have a mail system, but still you feel like a FedEx employee most of the time.

    • RIFT is a much more fun game, it has a lot of variety and you get to the fun stuff right from the beginning

      What? RIFT is exactly what WoW is, only with different graphics and apparently no support for phasing of content meaning the game world is even more static than in WoW. The only thing going for RIFT is the more interesting class/spec system, nothing else.

      I'm personally eagerly waiting for Guild Wars 2; from everything I've seen and read the developers are atleast trying hard to rethink old conventions, ditching the whole tank-healer-dps system and whatnot. And well, it'll obviously come with updated graphic

      • by Canazza (1428553)

        People have tried ditching the Trinity, only to have it rear its head again later in the development, mostly because it's much easier to create content and balance for the Trinity (since it's been done that way for the last 10 years)

        I hope I'm wrong, it's always nice to see developers try new things, but it'll be interesting to see how they work in party-dependence into the game. It'd be a shame if it devolved into everyone being a self-healing tank that eats giants for breakfast and the only reason to grou

        • GW2 would be the title I actually trust to do away with the trinity. They can easily scale all content to be unsoloable, and still cater to the anti-social MMO-players through hired henchmen, a mechanism that has been in place since launch of GW1. On paper, the idea of having each class feature self-healing abilities with different restricting mechanics sounds like an excellent way to force each character to mind his own survival while rewarding good class diversity.
        • Try Eden Eternal [aeriagames.com].

          It has cartoonish cel-shaded graphics, which a lot of people my dismiss out of hand, but it's actually a very fun game. And it has a very good answer to the trinity: rather than getting rid of it, it embraces it, and makes it a lot easier for anybody to play any role by separating your class level from your character level. You can change class at any time as long as you're not in combat, so rather than holding up a party waiting for a tank and/or a healer, anybody can fill any role at any

      • by Terrasque (796014)

        Don't quite agree there about Rift, it's generally more challenging than wow, and the rifts does make things a bit more interesting now and then. So it's not just the class/spec system.

        And, I'm also hugely looking forward to GW2 :) I will try it. I love the dynamic events concept, and they deserve the game price just for trying something different imho (plus, they already have a great reputation when it comes to MMO's). Not everything have to be a WoW clone :)

        And if it's good, well.. byebye riftie :)

        • by nschubach (922175)

          It's still a grind when you hit 50, which can be solo'ed, but it's quicker with friends. Rift was actually one of the few games that I hit max level on before I lost interest, but most other games held on to me for a longer period of time even though I didn't cap. I got my mage up to 50 and literally ran out of things to do besides grind expert dungeons or grind faction to get a mount. The dungeons wouldn't have been bad if they changed or were random, but it quickly became "stand here, cast this, rinse

    • by mikael_j (106439) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:36AM (#37116644)

      EVE Online has a huge interesting world where everything goes, and is tailored much more towards PVP. World of Warcraft is just too much about PVE and grinding that environment, which really isn't that fun, especially considering it's an MMO

      Actually, WoW has become more and more about PvP. The problem though, from my point of view as someone who's played since "vanilla" but recently just kind of lost interest, is that most WoW players used to be primarily PvE players who enjoyed world PvP and the occasional battleground match. These days more and more players are "kids" who just care about the organized and ranked PvP, Blizzard even crippled world PvP on PvP realms (quickly respawning elite lvl 85 NPCs kind of take the fun out of the old-style world PvP in and around towns).

      I miss the fights in Hillsbrad or the horde invasions of Darkshire. Of course, back then there was also less of a gap between someone who was still leveling his/her character and someone at the level cap. If you were level 25 and in Darkshire when the shit hit the fan you could still put up a fight, these days when world PvP does happen it's always a bunch of lvl 85s with maxed out PvP gear who are able to tear through anyone but others who are also lvl 85 and in full PvP gear (PvE gear is useless for PvP these days).

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:50AM (#37116688)

        A very good analysis.

        I started with WoW when it came out, returned from time to time, but it just can't captivate me any more. One of the reasons is what you describe.

        I'm an old school PvE player. Still I played EvE for a long time, for the PvP. But that's more a matter of logistics, not so much one of actual shooting skill. EvE battles are, IMO, over before the first shot is fired. But I digress. WoW was designed around PvE. PvP, outside of world-PvP on dedicated PvP servers, was an afterthought. IIRC it took like a year before battlegrounds came into existence.

        I'm actually surprised that Blizzard, after carefully avoiding pretty much all cardinal sins of MMO design and development (seriously, when I look back at the history of MMOs, I've seen my share of blunders and failures due to wrong decisions, be it balancing, content introduction or technical issues, and Blizzard so far avoided them all), fell into the old pit that spelled doom on so many MMOs: Do not alienate your core players by trying to cater to a fringe group that leaves you for another game. Most people I know that play(ed) WoW do and did so for the PvE content. The dungeon crawl, the item hunt, the raiding. Very few cared for battleground PvP (or PvP altogether).

        Now, they will certainly lose players to games that are more PvP centric. But trying to win them back could easily lose them the PvE players that came to WoW because it is currently one of the few good MMOs that center around PvE, items hunting and raiding.

        • You also have to take into account the fact that they have come right out and said they don't have the tools to make new battlegrounds in any kind of economical time. So you end up on the same few maps over and over again, some with well recognized and established problems (many of which should have been cleared up before the map even left the initial design phase *cough*Alterac Valley*cough*). On top of this they decided that e-sport was more important to them than making the pvp game fun for a majority of

        • by DJRumpy (1345787)

          God I hope they haven't turned Diablo into a WOW clone. If they did, it doesn't bode well for playability. I just tried the free Wow (lvl 20 cap), and it's pretty boring not to put too fine a point on it. I've no interest in PVP, and if that's the only thing that makes this game interesting, it's bad news for old school D3 fans. This is all I keep reading on the D3 boards regarding turning it into a WOW clone, from the character customizations, the art, the play style, etc.

          This seems like the classic go-fet

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lexsird (1208192)

        I played WoW since the first two open betas, and recently, the last 6 months left the game. Once you level cap, then it's about gear. It's about a grind for gear no mater what you do. Gear is the high level content. PvP was an afterthought for WoW. Blizzard stumbled with it for years, doing massive nerfs, causing players to adapt to "Flavor of the Month" type game play, where you would just work on whatever class suited the system the best.

        Having two types of gear, PvP and PvE just made the game annoying at

      • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @06:28AM (#37117120) Homepage Journal

        The biggest change in Cataclysm was the healing model. Once a character passes level 80, the highest of the previous expansion, their costs to use healing spells increases to where by the time they are level 85; the new top level; their mana to healing cost has gone up four times. It is never a good idea in any game to make a player feel less effective as they progress. This one change alone had a very detrimental effect on players with many guilds report losses of people playing healers if playing at all; for some this was the only role they wanted and they when they stopped feeling effective they could not play.

        The problem Blizzard had with PvP and especially Arenas which they put so much effort into is that it was all a burst affair. Those who could unload the fastest and most coordinated won. So what did Blizzard do? They jacked up the hit points of characters. When an average mage had 20k health at level 80 in the previous release they now have 100k health. This caused a new problem, healers would just make PvP (specifically Arenas) play drag on and on. So they eliminate the effects of burst attacks with immense health pools and in turn keep the games from going on forever by nerfing the healers so strongly they cannot afford to heal effectively for any period of time.

        Blizzard causes all these problems through gear inflation. Its a common joke that your gear is better than your character, hell a mage's staff can double if not triple or more their ability. People used to make jokes in the previous release about how it was bound to happen when caster weapons would offer +999 spell power - well they do and actually do triple that.

        So Blizzard balances a game around X, then they monty hall it to death and wonder why the model no longer works. To fix the problem they create the nerf players all under the guise of providing a challenge. When one side of their development team does not operate within limits how do they expect to balance a game. Worse, they lied to their players. They claimed for months leading up to Cata they wanted to give healers a more challenging and rewarding play style. They didn't bother to ask and when people complained they merely deleted threads.

        What Blizzard forgot is that the majority of their players play to have fun. Having fun means being able to be a hero, saving the day, pulling it out under incredible odds. When they turned the healing model upside down they stripped that feeling from a large amount of their player base. Now I here they want to do the same to tanking as its "not engaging enough". Random groups already make DPS players wait nearly 30 minutes to get in (standard five man mechanics and needless to say more people play dps) so I can only imagine the pain coming forth.

        • by ATMAvatar (648864)

          Through their "bring the player, not the class" balancing goals, they also marginalized 4 of the 10 classes in the game. In a world where every class capable of playing a DPS role is able to do so just as effectively as any other class capable of doing a DPS role, those classes that can only do DPS become inferior classes.

          I personally quit because my main was a Mage. I knew that logically, I needed to level up a hybrid character that could switch roles on the fly to get the most out of the game, but the t

        • The biggest change in Cataclysm was the healing model. Once a character passes level 80, the highest of the previous expansion, their costs to use healing spells increases to where by the time they are level 85; the new top level; their mana to healing cost has gone up four times. It is never a good idea in any game to make a player feel less effective as they progress. This one change alone had a very detrimental effect on players with many guilds report losses of people playing healers if playing at all; for some this was the only role they wanted and they when they stopped feeling effective they could not play.

          Yup. My main characters were a shaman (Resto/Enh), and a priest (Disc/Shadow). Nobody wanted to let me play DPS, and I was seriously gibbled when it came to healing, especially with idiots who felt that the way to play was to pull everything and let your healer sort things out. I cancelled my subscription in January, and haven't looked back.... actually, I haven't even turned my gaming system on in almost 3 months, as I found that I really don't enjoy what's become of gaming any more. WoW is just one exampl

        • by GodInHell (258915) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @11:14AM (#37119402) Homepage
          WoW has been attracting new and untested gamers into the whole concept of gaming for years. I'm talking about folks that never played a videogame more involved than tetris until their buddy or their S/O sent them a free trial. People like my wife, who like to follow my friends and I around healing and got decent enough to raid with us, or my friend Joe who has aggrophobia and enjoys the opportunity to socialize without having to take a bunch of meds. But these folks are NOT gamers. They don't have a ton of coordination, and they don't have this concept that trying to do the same jump 40 times until you get it right is somehow enjoyable. They play, they enjoy playing, but severe difficulty is, for them, a wall.

          In Wrath of the Lich King, these folks could play everything in the game. The most difficult fights were unlocked by triggering optional hard-modes, and the basic level of difficulty was set low enough that even my wife and my friend Joe could do their part and we'd make decent progress from week to week without burning out. For me, that all changed in Cata. It started with the truly bad players who we carried at the end of Wrath of the Lich King -- but once they were gone there was another layer of players who tried hard, liked to play, wanted to succeed, but for whatever reason couldn't hack it. Cata, even the five man dungeons, was way too hard. The poster above captures one element of that, the changes to the healing system made it hard for healers (and hey, guess what role tends to get asigned ot the guy that dose not game and dosen't really know what to role they want to play). That in turn makes it hard for tanks (and let me tell you, dieing because my healer runs out of mana when the boss is at 50% health, NOT a fun experience for a tank). That in turn makes sucess impossible for the DPS, who's key roles are to (1) not take damage and (2) do as much damage as fast as possible.

          For me, and for my guild, we enjoyed raiding with people we actually liked as, you know, people. Once the difficulty level goes up I was forced to choose again between finding some raiding guild full of elitist sh*theads (and always that one guy who's REALLY good at playing the game and also a total racist/mysogenist pig) OR not getting to play end-game and just tooling through 5 man dungeons over and over until I got my teir pieces... whee. I chose option three, RIFT and wait for TOR.

          Now -- watch for the elitist responses blaming the players for not being up to the challenge. I guess my response would be, okay, say you're right -- I'm still not going to pay for a game that is set to an unadjustable difficulty level that is so hight that my wife and friends gave up and quit.
          • Anyone who has played DPS and either healer or tank to any amount can tell you that there are way too many DPS to tanks/healers. In Wrath as a tank your dungeon Q was instant, as a healer, 2 minutes at most, and usually closer to instant. As DPS? 30 minutes easily. This tells you that despite needing 3 DPS for 1 each tank and healer, there were still many more DPS. I mean on my druid I'd Q as tank and DPS and I never, ever, not even once, was chosen for DPS. The game always needed tanks.

            Ok fine, but that me

      • by wwphx (225607)
        I've played WoW since before Burning Crusade and frankly I'm tired of it. I'd like to play more City of Heroes, but it's a ghost town. I'm considering getting a WoW credit card to let my monthly pharma fund my WoW, but my desire to play has really been done in to their kowtowing to PvPers. I want a good PvE environment, most of my friends in my two guilds both prefer PvE over PvP, and the grind to 85 has just become too easy.

        I would consider other games like LOTRO, but I went Mac 4+ years ago knowing
      • by Duradin (1261418)

        "PvE players who "enjoyed" world PvP"

        The quotes are rather important on that statement.

    • Spot on m8.

      You've hit the nail on the head with that.

      Another problem is what they've done with PVE Raiding. Lack of content and attempting to make up for it with new abilities? Shit no. Spending months wiping on the same boss was one thing, spending months wiping on a slightly more powerful version of a boss you already killed is something else altogether.

      To be 100% honest it probably has to do with them focusing too much on PVP and PVP players.

      The unfortunate thing is these kids that PVP all the time have

      • WoW was never a "hard" MMO, but it did have a unique mix that wasn't over whelming for the "newbie" yet with enough depth to keep more experienced players happy. After the merger with Activision, things changed and it became more about trying to wring every last penny from the game, instead of making a well balanced game.

        WotLK was ok, mostly because much of the content was designed before the merger, Cata is the true result of the merger. Re-hashed content, a talent system dumb ed d

        • WoW was never a "hard" MMO, but it did have a unique mix that wasn't over whelming for the "newbie" yet with enough depth to keep more experienced players happy. After the merger with Activision, things changed and it became more about trying to wring every last penny from the game, instead of making a well balanced game.

          Depends on what you mean by hard. Back in the days of vanilla and BC, raiding was difficult. It took time and effort to get to the point where your character could raid. As a result it was hard to get into a raiding guild. Players had to take time to prepare for a raid and learn the fights. Guilds that could take down the end game boss were few. For vanilla, it was almost 2 years before the first world kill of the end game boss. It took 6 months after the release of BC that the first world kill of th

      • I actually loved the Random Dungeon Finder... you got to meet all sorts of interesting people. I just wish there was a way to "friend" people you meet there so that you can group with them again.

        My biggest complaint with Cata was that the story/quest progression is almost completely linear. You could do Hyjal or Vashjir and there is basically a single quest chain through each zone and nothing else. You got a set of quests in each area three at a time, and you had to do all of them to proceed, otherwi

        • The quest progression etc is fine.

          But your love of the Random Dungeon Finder is loving it in the original form I mentioned.

          Its not entirely feasible for them to combine all realms, there needs to remain a separation of players to some extent. When the random dungeon finder was restricted to realm-only you COULD friend people. You could get into guilds based on skill displayed in a random dungeon. You could do all sorts of things.

          Best of all, there were consequences for acting like a complete douchebag. You'

    • by tenco (773732)
      PvP in EVE is a joke. You don't really stand a chance in your first year of playing because you haven't trained the necessary skills on your char yet. Then it's grinding ISK for weeks to get your gear. Hours of dull waiting - then 5 minutes of fun. Repeat.

      I'd rather spend my free time on other PvP games like League of Legends. Much less waiting and more fun.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      Perhaps the gold farmers found something more lucrative?

  • by Shag (3737) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @03:58AM (#37116470) Homepage

    I look forward to being able to tank against kung-fu pandas.

  • by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @03:59AM (#37116476) Homepage Journal

    It could just be people taking some time off before Diablo 3 comes out?

    • I doubt it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:54AM (#37116714)

      It is probably a combination of things:

      1) WoW is just getting old. Some people get bored of the same thing after a time. Yes they introduce some new content but the fundamental game hasn't changed much. That was why I canceled my account. I'd just had my fill. Perhaps I'll play again later, after all if yo leave something alone it can become new again, who knows?

      2) A solid alternative came out in the form of Rift. Most MMOs are complete and total disasters when they launch, they are all kinds of broke and you have to put up with a lot of shit. Not Rift, it was solid out of the gate, so you really could leave WoW and go enjoy it. Also Rift is solidly targeted at the same kind of gamer. It is a fantasy MMO, with quests, dungeons, etc. It's UI is extremely WoW like, and so on. I played it for awhile until I got too busy and I tell everyone "Rift is for you if you enjoyed WoW, but want new things in the same vein."

      3) Blizzard seems to be getting real schizophrenic on what players they want to target with WoW. So in the previous expansion, they seemed to continue more casual gamer targeting, at least for PvE content. They made dungeons a hell of a lot easier, toned down raids in normal mode and so on. Very casual friendly. However in the current one they turned the difficulty way up, dungeons were a real challenge and raid were more old school. Also in PvP they have continually targeted more and more hardcore people, putting emphasis on the "digital sport" type of thing. This leads to a problem because gamers can't get what they want and it makes everyone unhappy. Hardcore types get mad when it gets easier, causal types get mad when it gets harder. Everyone seems to get mad when things just suddenly change (even the people I knew who liked more challenging dungeons were pissed off at Cata heroics because it was a massive change, with no middle ground).

      This probably marks the end of WoW's glory years. It made MMOs in to something that all sorts of people play and really established the mass market. However it seems people are moving on. I doubt Blizzard will reverse the trend. Now I don't think WoW will die, I think it will be here for many more years, probably decades, but I think the player base will dwindle and settle at a much lower level.

      It's had its run, but many people are moving on.

    • by sa1lnr (669048)

      Or it could be people having to deal with the current financial situation?

      • I think it's more that there is nothing to really do anymore, unless you like repeating the same quests everyday in a tiny new area that disallows exploration beyond the little bit of real estate you unlock every few weeks, or you want to do top end raiding (which you can only do once or twice a week for most people, if at all).

        You can always play the LOLESPORT pvp, but it has the drawback of not actually being fun.

      • by ifrag (984323)

        Or it could be people having to deal with the current financial situation?

        Could be for some, but I'd wager they were probably bored with it already and had a harder time justifying leaving the account active. For those who still enjoy WoW, it's probably a far cheaper form of entertainment per hour than just about anything else. But that's part of the problem with most MMOs, they really don't respect the players time. The biggest problem I see with MMOs is when design is centered specifically on keeping the time sinks as long as possible rather than just making the game fun.

      • by delinear (991444)
        I think you're onto something - I doubt there is any one single reason at play here, but for a lot of people money just got a lot tighter. Suddenly that bit of extra cash they didn't mind dropping on the game so they could casually dip in and out when they wanted might be better saved or used elsewhere. Couple that with several reasonable "free to play" alternatives on the market at the moment, and for the non-hardcore gamer it makes more sense to pick up one of those games instead of having a WoW account o
    • Also, the fact that TFA cites a loss of 300k users and TFS cites "nearly a million".

      C'mon /., I know that it's nice to be all big balled about throwing big numbers around, but multiplying a loss by 3 is hardly fair reporting.

      • by tbannist (230135)

        Apparently, they lost 600k last quarter [softpedia.com], and 300k this quarter. That makes almost 1 million in the last six months.

        However, the loss may just be "returning players" exhausting the new content and letting their subscriptions expire again, if the decline continues, it'll be a different story.

      • If you had read the whole thing you'd see that they said that was 300k since May, putting them down to 11.1 million from the highpoint of 12 million at the end of the third quarter last year.
      • by Calydor (739835)

        They're citing different time frames.

        There was a mass exodus of 600k in one quarter, then another 300k dropped during the next quarter.

    • by MachineShedFred (621896) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @08:29AM (#37117804) Journal

      Here they are in no particular order:

      1. Summertime in the northern hemisphere. People go do stuff when the weather isn't terrible
      2. The current state of the game. This entire expansion has been a rerun of content that was already in the game, with a little extra material thrown in. You can either do the same PvP arena grind that hasn't changed in a couple years other than new class abilities and scaled gear; or you can run the same two heroics over and over, which are retreads of instances they released years ago; or you can do the one current-level raid. THAT'S IT.

      3. They've become lazy in their development. You could see it starting with the last expansion when they recycled Naxxramas and Onyxia from the original game. Now Blizzard has taken to recycling 5-man dungeons, and taking 10-man raids and turning them into recycled 5-man dungeons. New content keeps MMOs alive. Retread content gets people looking for the unsubscribe button.

      They've managed to obsolete all the content in their game by having ridiculous scaling. The only reason to go into any raid instance other than Firelands is for tourism. The only reason to do the ~11 5-man dungeons made available in this expansion is if you don't have the gear necessary to get into the two retread troll instances, so you can grind them over and over again until you get to your weekly cap on "valor points."

      The game has no content for someone that doesn't like endlessly repeating the same crap, or endlessly repeating the same crap on a different class. Hardly surprising that they lost ~8% of their subscribers in 6 months.

      • I mostly agree with what you're saying here, but your 3rd point is a tad disingenuous.

        - Naxx was more or less recycled, but to me this is okay because very little of their population saw it when it was relevant.
        - Onyxia wasn't really "content" for the last expansion that was supposed to mean anything. It was literally a bonus raid added in celebration of their 5th anniversary.
        - The two (yes, only two) 5 mans that got "recycled" are only the same instance in name and layout only. The content inside the dun

  • One can readily imagine that WoW-players will be the next generation Star Trek fans. TV series followers from a few decades ago probably are the same (alien?) breed. The long term nostalgia potential for WoW appears great.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      I don't think so, the problem with wow is you can't play the game from 6 years ago or even from 12 months ago, The game has changed and for many it has changed for the worst, dumbing it down to the point where they have sucked the life out of the game. Characters all look the same, the talents and specs are so horrendeously simplified even a moron could created a successful spec blindfolded and the PVP is broken worse than ever, blizz seem to be clueless to the problems and throw more and more weak content
      • What did many want? I know what I wanted (well, back when it was still vanilla WoW): A more challenging game. I guess WoW didn't turn into one with the last expansion either, judging by your words?

        • by bloodhawk (813939)
          people want a challenge, players need to feel they are accomplishing something, being handed everything on a platter pleases some people in the short term but if you want people to stay and continue to play there needs to be a challenge. Blizz have been progressively been removing all the challenges from the game, they have catered to the "bring the player not the class" which is nice idea but to achieve it they have progressively dulled down class differences and removed the challenge and variety, for inst
        • I've only seen a few low-level areas, both in vanilla and in Cataclysm (I've never been entertained enough to subscribe for longer than 1 month for as long as the game has been out.)

          Some of what they've changed is nice. Blizzard has really improved their ability to develop quests, and many of them now involve vehicles or other gimmicks, which makes the low-level game a lot less monotonous. They've also removed a lot of 'redundant' quests, while still rewarding you the same amount of experience for completin

  • I don't have time to play MMOGs, but people I know who play WoW and the like have recently moved to playing Rift [riftgame.com] as their new fantasy MMO of choice.

  • Paid customer services, like character recustomization and especially migration have been deadly for certain realms and games in general.

    If your friends move to another realm, you have 2 options: transfer your own character, or quit playing. The same goes when a previously florishing realm goes 'dead' - people either move either quit playing.

    Blizzard neglected this issue way too long - look at their fora, for certain realm subfora this is the most common complaint 'our realm was good but now everyone left t

    • I found that the realm transfers and also the cross-realm battlegrounds (and later the LFG tool), did a more subtle damage on our realm - it killed the sense of community.

      It quickly went from a world where people knew each other to a world of strangers.

      • This. The only community building once LFG went in was the spam on trade chat. Sure, it made it easier to find groups, but they were always with people you'd never meet again. It would have been much better if you could somehow have friend listed people and had the LFG tool look for those people again next time you queued up.

  • by neokushan (932374) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:20AM (#37116572)

    I tried WoW when it first came out in the EU. I gave up after a month for numerous reasons (basically, it just wasn't my kind of game), however a couple of years ago I met my (now) wife who was an avid WoW player. She played at a professional level, in a guild with sponsorships and that kind of thing. By all definitions, she was a "hardcore" WoW player. Yes - was.

    I watched from the sidelines as her interest in the game dwindled and it's easy, from an outside perspective, to see why - Blizzard were trying to appeal to too many "types" of MMO player and more or less alienated everyone. To break it down in its simplest terms, there's 2 kinds of player - casual and hardcore. When the burning crusade came out, it was hard. Tough as nails, in fact. I remember watching her and her 25 man guild wipe numerous times on regular bosses, let alone the heroics. And it was fun! They enjoyed the challenege, but the problem is the "casual" players didn't. The casual argument was that they're paying the same subscription as everyone else yet only getting to see half of the content because they couldn't progress.
    That's when Blizzard decided to tone down the difficulty, just in time for Wrath of the Litch King. This kept a lot of the casual players happy, but it meant the hardcore guilds were completing the content a day or two after it came out. If Blizzard didn't stagger patch releases, Arthas would have been dead before Christmas.

    In each instance, Blizzard ultimately lost players. Sure, they'd gain an increase in subscribers when the expansions were released, but shortly after people would stop paying the subscription. On the one hand, the casuals feel cheated when content is too hard and the hardcore guilds get bored because there is no content left for them. I've even seen Casual players argue that the heroic modes are too hard and that it isn't fair, despite the fact that the content is the same and the purpose of heroics is to keep the hardcore guilds happy.

    The end result is that Blizzard constantly changes their mind on who they focus on - casual or hardcore and ultimately appeases neither.

    • Your chronology is a little garbled. Here's what happened on the PvE side:

      In Vanilla, raiding was not very accessible. You needed 40 players to do most raids, which was an organizational hassle, and most raid content was seen by only a few top guilds. The perfect example is Naxx: it was released at the end of Vanilla and was meant to give high level guilds something to do. I imagine less than 1% of the player base saw that content, which is unfortunate since it was huge and well-designed. Casual players ei

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:23AM (#37116586)

    - the rampant immaturity and callousness. MMOs need a karma system, even several, where you rate your random-grouped partners on their skill, social behaviour, and efficiency.
    - the endless grind, which is harder to solve: either things come too easy to anyone, or one must grind them for hours...
    - the lack of new stuff. Blizzard has tweaked WoW, but not really added new game mechanisms over the years. My last fights a few months ago were very similar to whatever I was doing in Molten Core way back when.
    - the gross imbalance in Tank/Healer/DPS numbers, leading to 30+ minutes waits to run an instance with a DPS.
    - my guild insisted on doing 25-players raids, which I find top heavy and boring.
    - permanent balance issues. I think there were too many classes filling the same roles, but not equally. They never delivered on "take the player, not the class"

  • ... World of warcraft set back single player RPG's and single player games in general hugely. As everyone tried to copy WoW or wow'ify their RPG experience and now with the whole rise of the free 2 play phenomenon one wonders if there will ever be good variety of single player RPG's ever again on the PC.

    • Not only the single player RPG market, they also pretty much killed the MMO market. Every friggin' MMO that gets created somehow reeks of WoW.

      It seems MMO makers are unable to fathom that people want to play their game not because it looks like WoW, but because it is not WoW...

  • Reversing the loss of subscribers with 'fresh' content would be offering a drowning man a glass of water. The game doesn't need more of the same, nor does it need more of the suspiciously similar.

    The game is simply over. Eventually the whole Red Queen-syndrome of an MMO gets really, really old. Most players can put up with the invisible hand in the sky - that one that occasionally tells them all their end-game gear is suddenly vendor trash and they should go fight a bigger, differently colored monster wh
    • I am a current player in a good raiding guild (currently working on Ragnaros Heroic). I can definitely see what you describe in your post. I'm quickly coming to the realisation that no matter what Blizzard comes out with next, won't be enough to hold my attention any more.

      The current tier of content was only interesting for a week. Once you beat the bosses in normal mode, (which for our guild was not challenging at all) you had seen everything. The 'new' storyline could be summarised in less than 30 minutes

    • Blizzard needs to prevent WoW from becoming The X-Files here; they need to notice that the interest level (and the natural story arc) are winding down and create a proper ending before the whole thing becomes a bloated mess destined to a messy, horribly unsatisfying conclusion.

      Dude, my wife and I just finished watching the boxed set of the 9 seasons of the X-Files. We'd both seen the early episodes when we were younger, and thought we'd get the set to find out how the story ends...

      Finished watching the last episode, she turns to me:
      -OMFG. I've been poked in the perineum
      --How so?
      -A little up or down, and at least there would have been a sensation.

    • Blizzard needs to prevent WoW from becoming The X-Files here; they need to notice that the interest level (and the natural story arc) are winding down and create a proper ending before the whole thing becomes a bloated mess destined to a messy, horribly unsatisfying conclusion.

      It's probably too late now.

      It was to late the day Activision bought them...

    • I agree with a lot of what you're saying, and I think they've actually accelerated their approach to the end by recycling so much content from previous "eras" of the game. We're running the same damn dungeons we were running 4 years ago, except they've been updated to current spec and balance.

      These were old a couple months after they were introduced, and they're ancient now. Then, Blizzard has made it so that if you don't have a raid that clears the entirety of the one current-tier raid instance every wee

    • when they can wring money out of it all the way down?
  • by awjr (1248008) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:41AM (#37116668)

    The real problem is that the low level content has been invalidated by Bind on account equipment items that scale better than any other items you can get in dungeons/quests for your level and boost the amount of xp you get as well. Basically the only interesting content is the end-game raiding content.

    I play with a group of friends that get together once a fortnight to play WoW and we level new characters over the space of a couple of months. However we are dumping WoW in favour of Lord of the Rings. You can no longer fail at playing WoW.

    • I question how widespread your issue is (and how well-informed the people who modded your post are...you were quite assertive, so maybe they latched on to that). It seems like the vast majority of players play for the max-level content. Heirlooms were introduced to take some of the tedium out of leveling a new character when you already have a max level one. Since a huge fraction of active players with max level characters level another, heirlooms were a way to cater to the game's most numerous player type.

    • by halivar (535827)

      I have the exact opposite impression. It wasn't until the 4.0 revamp of the 1-60 zones that I ever actually enjoyed leveling. It felt more lore-connected, and the quests were more varied and interesting. Before 4.0, I only ever leveled one character to 60. Since then, I've leveled 7 alts just to experience all the starter zones.

      Levels 60-70 are still suck-tastic, though.

  • by DrXym (126579)
    There are too many free to play games for WOW to carry on the way it's going right now. Many subscribers are probably getting sick of the grind and wondering why they're forking over $15 a month for a game when they can play something equivalent to it (e.g. Everquest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, Freerealms etc.) for a fraction of that. Or nothing since free to play usually offers a substantial chunk of content gratis and then an a la carte micropayment system on top. It makes games very suita
  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @05:59AM (#37116970) Journal

    I got out of WoW at the end of April 2010. I'd been a fairly hardcore player for a couple of years up to that point (having been fairly hardcore in Final Fantasy XI beforehand). However, by the start of 2010, it was clear (and probably had been for some time if I'd been looking for the signs) that the game was past its prime.

    I think the trap Blizzard have fallen into is being too prescriptive towards their player base. In the Blizzard model of the world, everybody is basically working down a set progression path, with very little else to do. This is a theme that runs through every facet of the game.

    In terms of overall progression, Blizzard have made it very clear that they want all of their players to be working on the same raid content at the same time. An expansion hits, raises the level cap and renders all previous raids obsolete. The new expansion has a tier of raid content, which everybody jumps into. A few months later, the next tier of content is added. At the same time, the previous tier is adjusted so as to be ludicrously easy - and the rewards from it quickly become obsolete. Then a new patch comes a few months later, and the previous content is all nerfed down again. After this repeats a few times, you get a new expansion and the cycle begins again.

    What this means is that the game ends up not actually feeling like a persistent world. There's a treadmill that everybody has to stay on - with very little real potential to either pull ahead of the pack or - provided you are at least minimally competent - get left behind. This really diminishes any sense of achievement associated with the thing. Worse still, it's an entirely linear path that you have to tread; there are no credible alternative routes to gearing up and making progress, not least because the stats required for PvE and PvP are so completely different.

    Now, I understand that there isn't a quick and easy fix to this and that some games have gone too far the other way; one frustration in FFXI was that a lot of the best gear in the game actually dropped from the "ground kings", who were some of the oldest (and most irritating to find) bosses in the game. Given the game's... what... 8 years old now, that starts to look a bit pathetic. But WoW's habit of doing a "soft reset" with every patch and a "hard reset" with every expansion is even more infuriating.

    The lack of choice also runs through the character classes and the balancing. I always felt that Blizzard made a huge mistake in tying PvE and PvP balance together - they should have switched the game to different rules entirely whenever PvP was invoked. As it is, because of the constant tweaks required to maintain PvP balance, Blizzard got into the habit of constantly tinkering with every class in the game - and then fundamentally redesigning classes largely just because they felt like it.

    There's no freedom in WoW to develop your class in ways that Blizzard hadn't anticipated. They know how they want you to play a class and if you don't go along with their scheme, they'll just patch it so that you have no choice. By contrast, when players found that FFXI's Ninja class, which had been designed as a damage-dealer and debuffer, actually worked best as a tank, Square-Enix followed their players, and while they did end up tweaking the class a bit, it was aimed at fitting it in alongside the other tank classes, rather than trying to reinforce their original intentions. Blizzard, by contrast, would likely just have banned the people playing the class as a tank for "exploiting" and then patched the class so that it could only be used as a damage dealer.

    I think what I'm trying to say is that Blizzard's big mistake with WoW has been to let themselves become too interventionist, so that the game feels less like an exciting online world and more like a sequence of arbitrary hoops to jump through.

    • I think once they're done milking the current crowd of WOW players and they've lost enough people, they'll probably patch something where levels no longer have meaning. Everyone is just "max level" and monsters are all like, -1, equal, +1, +2, +3, and "skull" level. Then all of a sudden all the old content is viable as "something to do."

      Hell, I don't know why they don't do this now, except that because LOLESPORT they feel that player "silouette" is very, very important. More important than the game being fu

      • by Tridus (79566)

        They could ditch levels if they used the talent system instead, because levels are just an artificial thing that gets in the way. But for new players (and players like my wife who play very casually) having stuff to gain is a good thing by questing. Also if you threw every skill at her at once at level 1, she'd just get really confused.

        This game isn't only played by super hardcore types that read the forums for cookie cutter builds and know everything on day 1.

        • You could always unlock talents a few at a time by completing various tutorial achievements / quests. Or have some other way to ease people into the game without levels. Overall, in fact, I think people would be happy if they could roam openly across the world and choose which zones they wanted to explore.

          Of course, now that they made the story from zone to zone more linear I guess this won't work as well.

    • by RogerWilco (99615)

      The lack of choice also runs through the character classes and the balancing. I always felt that Blizzard made a huge mistake in tying PvE and PvP balance together - they should have switched the game to different rules entirely whenever PvP was invoked. As it is, because of the constant tweaks required to maintain PvP balance, Blizzard got into the habit of constantly tinkering with every class in the game - and then fundamentally redesigning classes largely just because they felt like it.

      There's no freedom in WoW to develop your class in ways that Blizzard hadn't anticipated. They know how they want you to play a class and if you don't go along with their scheme, they'll just patch it so that you have no choice.

      I agree with this. The game has become a lot more cookie-cutter and railroading over the years. I wish you could still talk about Moonkin tanks, or Hybrid builds. I think linking PvP balance to PvE, took a lot of the fun from PvE.

      I have some other things to add:
      1) I've just recently come back to the game. The thing that made Blizzard great was their level of support for their games. It took me an entire evening to get my addons in a somewhat functioning state again. Sure there's Curse and their client that

  • ..and Indie gaming in general.

    Actually, the "Great Recession" probably has even more to do with the decline -- when people do have money to spend on games, they won't be spending it on a monthly subscription. They'll buy a cheap pickup game like Terraria and get a couple months worth of entertainment out of it for the price of a single month on WoW. Or they'll play a "free-to-play" MMO that is more geared toward their style of play.

  • by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @06:10AM (#37117024) Homepage

    Something that's not been mentioned is that the writing has taken a sharp decline. I mean we're talking about a Blizzard MMO, the story was never spectacular. But in Vanilla and BC (and some of Wrath) it was good enough to do the job. It made sense. It drove things forward. It gave you reasons for why stuff was going on.

    Cataclysm is just pathetically bad in this regard. Things routinely happen that aren't explained in the game (go buy a godawful Richard Knaak book!). When things are explained, they're hackneyed and don't make sense. It looks like it's just been set up so the team has an easy excuse to create PvP. The Horde has gone back to being the rather flagrantly evil faction, though mostly because they have one flagrantly evil member (the Forsaken and their plague warfare) and the rest of them say "hey don't do that!" then remain blissfully ignorant that it's going on anyway.

    Also, content is a problem. Being 85 basically obsoletes everything except 85 content. Except that after release they went a very long time without any. When 4.1 hit and we got new dungeons, it was recycled troll dungeons from previous versions of the game retuned for 85, and that's it. So. Very. Weak. The raids in 4.0 were too hard for many people who had been able to raid in Wrath (they're easier now, but those people got bored and left with nothing to do). Now something apparently good came out in 4.2 but the damage is already done.

    Combined with the general fact that the game is now getting old and every few months there needs to be a fan revolt to keep Blizzard from making some braindead decision they'd never have done in the past (real ID forum names, more recently trying to charge an extra fee to group with your real ID friends) and it's clear things just aren't what they used to be.

    Finally, the competition is catching up. Blizzard had the advantage for years of other games not learning anything from WoW and having lousy UIs and unpolished releases. Not anymore.

    It had to happen eventually, and here we are. The question now is just how many people it'll lose, and if they can get those people back with their next MMO.

  • Wrath of the lich king was a rich expansion - its content was fresh, epic, grand, taken from world's own mythology (titans to dragons nords to nagas). And it was huge - even a single zone like dragonblight had more content than 5-6 original vanilla zones confined.

    Then they revisited original azeroth. a lot of people made a lot of applause for that in online forums, but these were mostly people who were in nostalgia because they were people who played original vanilla wow. when in a chat-channel (city-wid
  • by hesaigo999ca (786966) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:37AM (#37118414) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that blizzard is just too damn greedy...the "5 billion in the bank is not enough" attitude, is sickening.
    I have been an avid player since the beginning, and have lately stopped playing for a few months at a time...to avoid repeated play time...so that when an expansion comes out, i grind it to a certain level long enough to feel comfortable, yet not long enough for blizzard to make too much money off of me.

    This being said, I did not understand why they would also turn around and do only to lvl 85 instead of lvl 90 on the last expansion...again being greedy.
    No one is going to play your game forever, and now that you are trying to really squeeze more out of your players that have already spent an arm and a leg playing your damn game,...you realize "oh crap" we should not have done that....

    With all the hacked accounts as well, or p0wning going on, when someone complains about something, take care of them, offer them real compensation for their troubles, else they will leave, we know how hard it is to grind stuff...so offer more goodies more often...this 5 eggnogs and cookies as christmas gifts sucks,....bring out the cool weapons instead...help the player along...

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